BHTA calls for decisive leadership
In light of the recent Moody’s triple notch downgrade and a visit by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to Barbados, the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association (BHTA) is calling for decisive action to arrest the island’s economic woes.
Presenting her report at the BHTA annual general meeting at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre today, immediate past president Patricia Affonso-Dass said the last two years were undoubtedly two of the most challenging in the island’s tourism history.
“Between June 2012 and today, we have seen continued declines in arrivals and visitor spend on the island, we have seen closures of hotel properties, we have seen continued challenges in our source markets and, while they have slowly begun to creep out of the deep recession and start showing signs of positive growth, the competition from other warm weather destinations is fierce both with regard to the quality of their product, the volume of their marketing messaging and their price points,” she said.
“The Moody’s triple downgrade issued last week and the initial IMF Press release issued on Friday following their consultations with the public and private sector over the past week are not good for the country, and there remains a tremendous amount of uncertainty and fear about our future and the economy. With each new pronouncement, speculation grows and without a clear, well-articulated plan by the country’s leadership, the public, the media and the society put their own spin on the issues and negativity grows.”
She added: “Now, more than ever, there is the need for clear, decisive leadership in all sectors and a strong collaborative approach.”
Acknowledging that there can be positive results from a strong public/private sector partnership, Affonso-Dass said those charged with the responsibility of leadership should “make it a priority to provide the public with the facts on a regular basis, in as transparent a manner as possible, and maintain an open dialogue that is free from political agendas and bias so that all feel comfortable to take part.”
The tourism official said she believed the island needed a strong, united social partnership, adding that getting out of the economic crisis would take nothing less than “an aggressive collective effort” to which all contribute and recognise “how much we have to lose”.
She also called on leaders in the tourism industry to encourage their senior staff members to become actively involved in the association as well as greater unity among officials in the industry.
During the AGM, the association selected a new executive. The new president is Sunil Chatrani; the first vice president is Renee Coppin of Infinity Hotel; second vice president is Paul Collymore of Ocean Two Resort and Residences, and the new director of tourism services is Alan Kinch of Black Pearl Party Cruises.